Research continues to show that training impacts the bottom line, and investment in employee development helps drive business performance in every way that matters. Yet the perennial question remains. Why do employees not perform after receiving training?
There’s a well-worn expression by marketing pioneer John Wanamaker: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." The same could be said for staff training.
Despite their best intentions, companies are often tripped up by doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Incorrectly identifying a learning need leads to the wrong training solution, and learning not applied on the job post-training is tantamount to burning money.
Why are you training?
Organisations at times pursue training as the all-purpose panacea to employee performance and behavioural challenges. My sales consultant keeps missing his reporting deadlines. He is obviously not managing his time well. Let’s do time management training.
Perhaps the issue is that he does not know how to structure a report, which therefore takes longer resulting in a missed deadline. So the first question to ask is why an employee is not performing. There may also be other reasons for non-performance such as lack of natural aptitude for the job, wrong tools or counter-productive work environment, which lead to low motivation. If they do not have the aptitude for the job, then no amount of training may resolve the issue, except re-assignment on sound HR advice. If they do not have the right work tools or environment, it is a business issue that can be mostly resolved through adjusted processes.
If they lack the knowledge or skill then training is clearly the solution.
What do you want to achieve?
What do you want your employee to do better or differently after training? You could use the training objectives of the course content, but does that really meet the need? It’s more effective to personalise learning as much as possible by using a training provider who can tailor-make a course at reasonable cost.
Has training been effective?
You can only answer this question if you measure the return on your training investment. A simple approach is to measure an employee’s performance against the training objectives before and after the course. The return is higher when you can make learning stick, and knowledge is applied as as soon as possible after learning. Even a simple pre-and post-assessment of topic knowledge will show you if there has been movement.
If the right training is delivered for the right reasons, at the right time and applied ... your training investment will pay back dividends for years to come.